This amazingly detailed theme park map is what Tokyo Ghibli Land would look like

Yes! Finally, somebody designs something I’ve always dreamed that Japan would come up with — a Ghibili anime-inspired themepark How beautiful it would be.

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At the Ghibli Museum in Mikata, Tokyo, in an enchanting building designed by Hayao Miyazaki himself, you can wander among sketches and storyboards, gaze up at the iconic Robot Soldier standing guard on the building’s roof, and learn about the history of animation.

What you can’t do is ride a Laputa roller coaster, a Sea of Decay log flume, or a monorail shaped like the Cat Bus, because a) Mr. Miyazaki would probably hate that and b) Ghibli is presumably doing pretty well out of its other endeavours and doesn’t feel the need to build an actual amusement park just yet.

So, alas, these beautiful plans for a full-blown theme park by Japanese artist and Studio Ghibli fan Takumi won’t be being realised any time soon. Which is a shame, because Takumi’s incredibly detailed Tokyo Ghibli Land is one theme park that we’d happily pay through the nose to visit.

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The day after the snow and rain…

It’s sunny again, after a day of snow and then rain…

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The sweet fragrance of rain. There’s a name for the phenomenon discovered by scientists in 1964. It’s called “petrichor,” from the Greek words “petra,” meaning “stone,” and “ichor,” which refers to the fluid that flows like blood in the veins of the gods.

Excerpted from Livescience.com:

“Walk through the first rainstorm of the season and it slowly hits you: that fresh, earthy smell.

Before it hits the ground, rain is just water. It has no smell. But after the drops hit the ground and interact with dirt, the fresh and almost sweet fragrance of rain is let go. Now, scientists think they’ve identified the exact mechanism that releases this aroma into the environment. …

When a raindrop hits a porous surface it traps tiny pockets of air. These bubbles then speed upward, like bubbles in a glass of champagne, before breaking the drop’s surface and releasing microscopic particles, called aerosols, into the air. The researchers think these aerosols carry the rainlike aroma.

Buie and his postdoc, Youngsoo Joung, filmed raindrops as they hit 38 different types of surfaces: 12 engineered materials and 16 soil samples. Joung even sampled soil from around MIT’s campus and along the Charles River.

The researchers observed the process with a system of high-speed cameras. Depending on the speed of the droplet, and the properties of the soil, a cloud of hundreds of aerosol droplets might be dispersed in as little as a few microseconds. The researchers saw this most often during light and moderate rain, while far fewer aerosols were released during heavy rain. …

Scientists have long observed that raindrops can trap and release aerosols when they fall on water, but this is the first time they’ve observed the process happening on soil.

The new research “brings the conversation of bubble-induced aerosol formation from the ocean over to the land,” said James Bird, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Boston University, who was not involved with the study. “Microbes from soil have been observed high in the atmosphere; this paper provides an elegant mechanism by which these microbes can be propelled past the stagnant layer of air around them to a place where the breeze can take them elsewhere.””

Read the whole article at:

Why rain gives off that fresh earthy smell? 

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Why is Japan such an unpopular tourist destination?

Most of Japan is still off the beaten track. Japanese are, by nature and tradition, non self-promoters, its charms and many sights and attractions are still mostly unknown to the world…

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You would think that a country like Japan, rich as it is in both traditional culture and technical innovation, as well as plenty of weird and wacky things you’ll never see elsewhere, would be a huge hit with tourists. But as it turns out, Japan is actually not such a popular destination for people traveling abroad. Join us after the jump to find out why.

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Freezer-fridge organization and storage in no time at all

Buying the groceries is easy enough, but stuffing everything into the fridge and freezer afterwards can take a whole lot of time, and if you are in a hurry to cook as well, your hungry kids could be grumbling about there being no food on the table…retrieving the items later could take even longer, if you stuffed them higgledy-piggledy without some kind of system or organization.

The groceries. Bags opened and snipped

The groceries. Bags opened and snipped

In the photo above, I’ve just opened a number of food packets and unwrapped a number of mushroom packets and veggie items, as well as snipped open a few soup packets, and plonked them all into a boiling pot of meat soup shabu-shabu style. The dish takes all of 5 mins to prepare. However, the leftover grocery items need to be stored away properly in the fridge and freezer

You can shorten food storage and prep time following your grocery shopping trip, if you just take a few minutes to organize your kitchen and have handy just a few items like:

– clingwrap

– plastic bags of different sizes

– ziplock bags

– bag clips

– foil or plastic food bento-dividers

– tupperwares either nested or stackables of different sizes are particularly useful

– rubberbands

Bags, ziplocks,  clingwrap, ties or rubberbands, clips (stationery ones are best)

Bags, ziplocks, clingwrap, ties or rubberbands, clips (stationery ones are best)

Why bother at all?

Food goes bad or off, and meat and cut veggies start to oxidize and rot when left exposed. Wrapping the items or better, vacuum-packing them keeps them fresher longer.

Here’s how the items above can be put to work:

Bagged, wrapped, clipped or tied, ready for storage

Bagged, wrapped, clipped, tied, or placed in tuppers – ready for storage

In the photo above, you’ll now see that clips are holding the opened soup packets together, the mushroom and veggies have been bagged and the fish and meat packets re-clingwrapped, but only after they have been separated and divided into two portions, allowing you to later thaw only the portion you need.

The items are now ready to be put away and stored.

TAGS/LABELS are your time-savers!

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Here’s a tip:

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If you make a few label tags and separators out of cheap plastic stationery folders, your freezer will be neat and organized, and your food items easily retrievable.

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Trays and baskets with dividers can be helpful in keeping food packets straight so you can see each item in the freezer easily.

 

ORGANIZING YOUR VEGGIE DRAWERS

Baskets and trays (see photo below) are really useful keeping small items like lemons, ginger, onions and garlic from straying or getting lost among the larger veggies.

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Other veggies (greens and cabbages together in one drawer, fruit in another, mushroom and herbs in the topmost drawer)

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And voila, here’s a fridge/freezer organized for freshness and easy retrieval food prep!

 

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Why so many people visit Meiji Jingu

 

Meiji Jingu from the air

Meiji Jingu from the air

In the heart of concrete jungle Tokyo, it’s hard to find a green belt to breathe and space out in. Nevertheless, there are a few such spaces, one of them is the Meiji Jingu or Meiji Imperial Shrine. (Shrine sacred groves are usually a good bet to find nature and eco-diversity)

Tori gateway to grounds of the Meiji Jingu Shrine

Tori gateway to Meiji Jingu Shrine

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The approximately 700,000-square meter Yoyogi Forest, has about 100,000 trees donated by citizens across Japan, (in addition to the expansive Yoyogi park beside it), offering a haven from the incessant noise and crowds of the busy city with its dense foliage.
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The shrine, founded in 1921, was dedicated to Emperor Meiji — the first modern emperor after the demise of rule by the samurai class — and his wife, Empress Shoken.

Meiji Jingu Shrine facade

Meiji Jingu Shrine facade

Meiji Jingu Shrine has had the largest number of New Year’s visitors in Japan for 34 consecutive years. And 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the passing of Empress Shoken so before this year ends … is the year to come and visit.

Traditionally garbed priests

Traditionally garbed priests

If you get lucky you might spot a traditional wedding procession through the courtyard — the bride in a white kimono and hood and the groom in his formal black robe, walking together under a big red parasol, with Shinto priests trailing behind.

At the southern end of the shrine grounds visitors will come across the Meiji Jingu Treasure House, which displays many of the personal belongings of the Emperor and Empress, including the carriage which the emperor rode to the formal declaration of the Meiji Constitution in 1889. There is also a Museum Annex Building just to the east of the main shrine buildings that displays temporary exhibitions

The Treasure House

The Treasure House is an Important Cultural Property of Japan

See this interesting writeup of the Meiji Jingu Iris Garden and more historic tidbits of information.

Further sources:
Meiji Jingu Shrine

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Perfect tamagoyaki: An egg meal can be the most delicious thing…

Tamagoyaki

Tamagoyaki

Yesterday, when we eating at the Tsukiji market stalls in Tokyo, three strapping boys in Tokyo said the tamagoyaki (egg rolls) they ate was the most delicious thing they’d ever eaten, and I realized then it’s true that there’s no more important skill in the kitchen than skill with a skillet and eggs! To see how a perfect tamagoyaki, actually the dashitamagoyaki recipe is done, watch this video… The demonstration is done by a master sushi chef in Hokkaido
Click here http://youtu.be/NTIcJ_tdEJMv

Making dashi tamagoyaki

Making dashi tamagoyaki

Recipe Ingredients for making perfect tamagoyaki.

Eggs 8
Sugar 30g
Salt 3 g
mirin 1 tsp
Sake 1 tsp
Bonito dashi soup stock

While still on the topic of perfect egg meals, I thought I’d also include the following notes on how to make a good omelet…

BY AMELIA HAMILTON (hope she doesn’t mind)

You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs, but that’s just the beginning! Here’s what you need to know to make the perfect omelet.

Beat the Eggs

The first step is to beat your eggs. For a little oomph, add a splash of cream or milk and some salt and pepper. Beware of overbeating the eggs! This is a common mistake, and causes the egg whites to toughen. Nobody wants a tough omelet!

Choosing the Right Omelet
Pre-heat the omelet pan, spray with non-stick cooking spray if needed, and melt butter. Pour the egg mixture into the pan. Don’t you love that sizzle?

This article outlines the things to look for when choosing an omelet pan.

Although it’s not the original French Chef version, this Nordic Ware Pro Cast Aluminum 8 Inch Omelet Pan (sponsored link) will do the trick.

After egg mixture begins to set around edges, about 25 to 30 seconds, with heat-safe spatula, carefully push cooked egg from side of skillet toward center, so uncooked egg can reach bottom of hot skillet. Repeat 8 to 10 times around skillet, tilting as necessary, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes.

Fill the Omelet

When the eggs are almost set, but still moist and creamy on top, sprinkle fillings over half of the omelet. Here are 50 great ideas for fillings.

How to Fold Omelets

Using your spatula, fold the unfilled half of our omelet over the filling. This short video will show you ow to do it without tearing your omelet. Don’t worry if you don’t do it perfectly- the omelet will still be delicious, it just won’t be as pretty

Shake pan gently to loosen any egg or filling from edge, then slide omelet to edge of skillet. Holding skillet above plate, tip skillet so omelet slides onto plate. Use a warmed plate for even better results. This article contains several tips for pre-warming your plates.

Caprese salad and omelets are two of my favorite foods. Why did it take me so long to put them together? Eggs, tomato, fresh mozzarella, and basil. What’s not to like?

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Bonsai treehouses look like something out of Howl’s Moving Castle 【Photos】

Love these creative modern bonsai creations…

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Even without adornment, a well-done bonsai is a sight to see. It’s amazing how something as massive and powerful as a tree can be hemmed and trimmed to create a delicate, miniature version of itself. But for some, that level of artistry doesn’t go far enough.

Now bonsai artists are adding fantastical tree houses and other structures around their vegetative creations, resulting in multi-level, gravity-defying feats of architecture that still fit under a garden cloche.

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